Le Viet, 11th and Washington
I hadn't heard anything one way or the other about this new place before checking it out last night, but Cafe de Laos has left me cold the last couple times I've been there, so I decided to give the new place a shot. It's on 11th a few doors north of Washington Ave. It was very good! The atmosphere is waaay more upscale than you would expect for this area, though certain things didn't fit: the paper napkins, the giant bar area TVs that you can see from the entire dining room. It was a little clubby for my tastes, but nice. I'm not very familiar with Vietnamese food so we went with a couple server recommendations and a couple familiar dishes. The standout was the clam appetizer, Hen Xuc Banh Da, minced clams and some other things I couldn't pick out in a bowl made out of a crispy sesame cracker, which you break off and scoop up the clams with. We had two apps, two entrees, and split a (good) dessert and our total was an unbelievably low $46 before tip. My previous experience with Vietnamese food is limited to Pho 75 and Vietnam in Chinatown, and I liked Le Viet a lot more than Vietnam. Le Viet had a Pho section on their menu, I didn't try one but after this first visit, I'll definitely go back.
It's BYO for now but they have a big bar on one side of the restaurant, I suspect they're planning on getting a liquor license.